With the Dodgers mired in their longest losing streak in 73 years, they have moved players in and out of the lineup, and up and down the lineup. You can debate whether cause and effect is at work, but you cannot debate the results.
Desperate times beget desperate measures, but there is one classic slump-busting remedy that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has yet to try with his lineup.
“I haven’t considered pulling it out of a hat,” Roberts said. “Yet.”
Might be worth a shot. The Dodgers waited out two rain delays, played past 2 in the morning, scored more runs than they had in any game this month — and they still lost their 11th consecutive game. The last team in franchise history to lose so many games in a row represented Brooklyn.
This score was 8-6, the Dodgers’ 16th loss in 17 games. The defeat was administered by the San Francisco Giants, the last-place team in the National League West — a team that had been outscored in its previous two games, 21-2, by the Chicago White Sox, the worst team in the American League.
Can anything stop the Dodgers from losing?
Mother Nature did on Monday. But when the teams could not agree on when to make up a rainout, they waited out the storm, so the Dodgers lost on Tuesday — at 2:11 a.m., to be exact.
They did run out a bit more of the NL West clock, when the Arizona Diamondbacks lost. The Dodgers’ lead over Arizona remains at nine games, with 18 to play. Their magic number to clinch the division dropped to 10.
The Dodgers deployed six relievers, three of whom gave up runs. The loss was charged to Pedro Baez, his third in five September appearances. Baez has faced 20 batters this month and retired nine.
Baez was booed off the Dodger Stadium mound in each of his previous two appearances, but Roberts said he would continue to ask Baez to “pitch big innings for us, from now until the end of the season.”
In his first appearance since then, Baez inherited a 6-6 tie in the sixth inning. He gave up three hits to the first five batters, the last hit a single by Hunter Pence that drove in what turned out to be the game-winning run.
Roberts did not use Brandon Morrow or Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers’ two most effective relievers, in the game. Roberts said he used Baez because the Giants were at the bottom of their batting order.
“I felt Pedro could get those guys out,” Roberts said. “I really did.”
Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers’ starter, had prepared to take the mound around 7:00. When he finally did take the mound, it was just about 11:00.
Maeda lasted three innings, and the Giants scored in each one — a two-run homer by Denard Span in the first inning, a solo shot by Jarrett Parker in the second, a triple by Pence and a run-scoring grounder by Joe Panik in the third.
The Dodgers batted around in the fourth inning, scoring four times for a 4-4 tie. The game also was tied 5-5 in the fifth — Yasiel Puig hit a 441-foot home run for the Dodgers — and 6-6 in the sixth, after an RBI double by Justin Turner.
Mother Nature put on a show far more impressive than any the Dodgers have put on lately. The rain started after batting practice, and lighting and thunder soon followed.
When the AT&T Park public address announcer told fans, “We invite you to sit back and relax,” it was immediately followed by an angry blast of thunder.
First pitch was delayed 40 minutes. There were five pitches in all, and one batter. Curtis Granderson struck out, the skies opened up, and the game was delayed again.
The teams, and a few thousand hardy fans, waited through almost two more hours of thunderstorms. The chants of “Co-dy! Co-dy!” for Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger were impressive enough in the enemy ballpark, even more impressive in that they were heard at midnight.
Less impressive was the Dodgers’ decision to keep Bellinger in the lineup after the rain delay, playing the outfield on wet grounds, a seemingly imprudent risk of injury for the cleanup batter as the calendar approaches October.
Roberts said the Dodgers “thought of that” but walked the outfield before the game to assess the conditions for all their outfielders, not just for Bellinger.
“That was definitely a concern,” Roberts said.
Bellinger, in fact, slipped while chasing Buster Posey’s RBI double in the seventh inning.
Before the game, Roberts was reminded that the Dodgers had built a 21-game cushion in the NL West.
“We’re using it,” Roberts said. “We’re using every bit of the cushion. We never thought we’d need to, but we’re finding a way to use every bit of it.”
These are the times that make a manager’s seat uncomfortable.
“I wouldn’t say uncomfortable, but — ” Roberts said, then paused. “Yeah, maybe a little more uncomfortable. I think that’s honest.”
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin